With more ways to get news than ever before, citizens who live and work near the U.S. Army Pueblo Chemical Depot (PCD) were asked how they prefer to receive updates on the Pueblo Chemical Agent-Destruction Pilot Plant (PCAPP).
“The goal of the interviews was to determine the best way for project people—regulators, contractors, federal and local government—to get information out to local stakeholders and them to communicate with us,” said Jeannine Natterman, Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment (CDPHE) public involvement coordinator.
During a two-day period in early April, public information staff representing the depot, PCAPP, CDPHE and the Pueblo City-County Health Department interviewed residents, business owners and elected officials from Avondale, Boone and Pueblo. Among other questions, participants were asked how they like to receive information about the plant.
Sarah Joseph, the local health department public information officer who helped conduct the interview, said the current mode of communication appears to be working. “The people I interviewed—government and elected officials—were well-informed of the process and plans to remove the mustard agent from Pueblo,” Joseph recalled. “That says to me that whoever is providing the information is doing a good job.”
Natterman explained the Resource Conservation and Recovery Act (RCRA) requires the PCAPP Public Participation Plan to be updated every five years, or sooner if the project experiences significant changes. An example of a significant change is the start of agent operations by the plant’s secondary system—the PCAPP Explosive Destruction System, which occurred earlier this year.
RCRA guidance says a random sample of the community, including residents, elected officials, environmental groups, educators, and those in the health profession should be interviewed. Approximately 35 interviews were conducted.
Although there are no preliminary results, Natterman said participants enjoyed the interviews. The plan will be finalized by the end of summer 2015. “We received valuable feedback about how we are communicating, how stakeholders perceive the PCAPP project and how we can communicate better,” Natterman said.
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